Thursday, June 17, 2010


President Gordon B. Hinckley's 6 Be's Talk from 2000, which I still LOVE

I do believe my recent cross country road trip deserves a post of its own. So, know that's coming next. Like next month, cause there's much to tell. I'm honest like that.

Instead, I'm here to recount an experience I had in the Atlanta airport...

The setting: Tuesday, June 15, 2010. 9:00 pm. DELAYED/CANCELED CITY! Bad weather. Anxious workers and travelers. I had actually been scheduled to leave Denver for Raleigh the day before, but that flight, too, was canceled. I'm already delayed over 3 hours, as my flight OUT of Atlanta should have left at 6:11 pm, but bad weather had kept us from landing on time, so we detoured south to Macon, where we got some fuel, and sat on a tarmac for about 2 hours.

I had a dead cell phone (DOH!), so upon arriving at my gate, my eyes were peeled for a charging station/counter. Immediate, among the chaos and clutter, one jumped out at me. All the seats at the bar built for 5 were obviously taken, but I did spot one outlet - which was on an end, and that was fine, for I could place my phone right at the end of the bar, and actually just camp out with my bags on the floor. All was well.

It didn't take much time to for a conversation to start with the gentleman at the end of that bar. He was closely studying his own phone and laptop, and I was practically sitting underneath him, so as to not take up too much space down an isle of seats. We quickly gathered from one another that we did have a final destination in common. RDU. But that's about where the "in common" ends.

I never got his name - so let's call him John. John was a 30-something year old businessman. He shared with me that his employer is a DNA testing company (Labcorp)... In fact - it is the company that has done extensive DNA testing in Eldorado, Texas at the Yearning for Zion Polygamist Compound (Need a memory jogger - Spring 2008 - Warren Jeffs - 400 kids removed from their home). Anyway - that's his business. He even tried to sell me on it very quickly in the conversation. I told him that I was one of six kids, and he quickly insinuated that I could have DNA testing done on myself and my siblings to make sure we were all "really" full siblings. HAH! Oh, he had no idea... HAH! Oh yeah, THAT'S EXACTLY how religion was brought up. I had almost forgotten! I told him that I came from a very religious family, and I didn't see it necessary to take him up on that offer. Naturally, he asked, "What religion?" and I naturally replied, "I'm a Mormon."

John immediately had a smirk look on his face. He not only wanted to laugh out loud (and did) - but additionally - he continued to make sure I knew that HE knew so much more about Mormonism than I did. Oh my.

Early on, I asked John what it was that he did know about Mormons. His first response was, "You are polygamists." Fortunately (for me, but not so much for him), I had plenty of reason and facts to share with him why he was wrong. Most importantly, that Mormons have not practiced polygamy since the late 1800's, and our religion does not allow it. If he hears of an LDS church which does practice polygamy (namely the FLDS Church - or Fundamentalist LDS, or the RLDS Church - Reorganized LDS) then that is a sect which branched off from the church in its infancy. Let me now just say that this conversation is not a "fun" one to have. I really love to talk about my church, and the "Good News" of the Gospel. BUT, when topics which can be somewhat argumentative come up, I generally just wish they would be over already. I'm happy to share what I know to be true, but when the person on the other end of the line insists they know better than I do, the anti-confrontational person that I am gets more than a little uneasy. Thankfully - the conversation that continued with John was less "confrontational" than it was "informative and friendly." But, there is no doubt in my mind - John thought Leah was one big dummy.

Jokes were John's forte. At least HE thought so. His favorites were the ol' "What did Brigham Young say about women?" and more than a few insinuations that I was brainwashed, and even "glazed over", just like the leaders of my church like.

I don't know much, but what I knew at the time that our conversation was coming to an end was, I was glad I had had this very conversation with John. I was glad that for that hour or so, I had gotten to hopefully dispel any inaccurate notions that he had regarding the religion of Mormonism, which is obviously dear to me. Just in time, we said our goodbyes, as I quickly grabbed a bite to eat before finally boarding the plane at around 11:15.

When it was time to board, sections 1-5 were called first. My section was 7. I stood in line and said a last goodbye to my new "friend," and told him to have a great time in Ireland, which he had told me he was leaving for the very next day. We compared tickets as we knew we needed to check for sections, and his was 6. Section 6 was called.

Just then, I heard someone say my name from behind. It was a familiar face. The face of a middle aged man who had been sitting just beside John all along. He knew my name, since it had briefly come up earlier, as I sometimes foolishly refer to myself in 3rd person - oh well. I turned to him, and he approached me with his arm outstretched to shake my hand. His eyes were a little apologetic, and for a split second, I thought, "What in the world is he about to reveal to me?" He spoke. "Leah. I'm a Bishop in Florida. You. Were. Brilliant." Then, he smiled from ear to ear. I nearly cried with relief, for some reason - and exclaimed a time or two, "Are you SERIOUS?!"

Now, only God knows why he never spoke up. If I had to guess, he was just being cautious. From where he sat - what if he had spoken up earlier, and "helped me out?" What if Leah then started being a lunatic, an ugly impression of what Mormonism is, and then his name/face/reputation were tarnished. I don't have any idea if that is the reason, but in general, I think that he thought it was the right thing to do. Looking back - I think that "I" think it was the right thing to do too. Don't ask me why. It's just one of those things.

I was happy. I was very tired, but happy. Happy that the "judge" in this small window of time saw me for who I really am. I gladly shared what "good news" I could with John, and to be honest, quite possibly with at least another 10 people within listening range. I come away from this reminded that we never know who is watching us. Whether we're standing for what is right, or even standing for what is not, there are eyes on us. Be it here on Earth or otherwise, someone is always watching. :) So be good. You'll be glad you did.


Jacque said...

Great story Leah. Good enough for general conference! Maybe someday you'll get the opportunity.
I think the bishop you spoke to thought you were doing so well, that it was best to let you take care of it. As I think of the scenario, it doesn't seem like it would have been as good for him to join in.

Susan Hancock said...

Lee Lee- this is one of those moments that make me so very proud to be your mama! I know just how well you handled yourself as well as how you gently portrayed those beliefs that we hold so dear.

Didn't we have a good time on our trip?? You were an angel. I love you the best. Tell Rodney Happy Father's Day!

RobinsonRugrats said...

I love this story Leah! I have told it to Christian and our missionaries here. I am proud of ya!

leah said...

thank you so much cousin, mother, and friend! :) so glad to have people like you to share this with. <3

Anna and Ryan said...

Hey Leah, I'm just getting caught up on your blog. I love this story. The whole time I was reading it I was thinking, I bet Leah did an AWESOME job of explaining our religion. You are smart on your feet and able to share a strongly felt opinion with a disarming smile. You are amazing.